Sach Ka Saamna, anyone??
The man was comparatively young. Comparitively dynamic. And now he is dead. There have been speeches galore. Tributes galore. A state funeral. But all in vain.Bad timing, bad karma and bad judgement did YSR in. Whether you were his foe or friend, there is no denying the tragedy – an avoidable tragedy at that. Of course, there will be the usual enquiries and buck passing. Of course, conspiracy theories will do the rounds. But for those with no axe to grind and nothing to gain or lose from the death of Andhra Pradesh’s newly- minted chief minister, several troubling questions may go unanswered. Apart from anything else, four other lives were lost along with YSR’s. Nobody has paid the slightest attention to the sorry plight of their families. Whose decision was it to take the doomed flight into hostile terrain in miserable weather? Do the loved ones of the pilots, group captain S.K.Bhatia, captain M.S. Reddy and the relatives of YSR’s principal secretary S. Subramanayam, plus his chief security officer A.S.C.Wesley, have no right to question authorities, demand explanations? Or are their lives less valuable, somehow?
Watching the coverage across television channels, it was distressing to note that the disaster was covered in such an insensitive and lopsided manner. Granted, a VVIP was killed and deserved extensive coverage – but to the exclusion of the others? That is the trouble in India – this is but one example of our feudalistic mindset that only recognizes and values Very Important People. We forget them equally fast, but that’s another story. In this case, the ‘Tiger of Cuddapah’ was felled under circumstances that remain unclear. After all that speculation about the chopper being shot down by armed Maoists lurking in the Nallamalla hills, there are other self-styled theorywallahs who refuse to accept that it was nothing more dramatic than perhaps a pilot error that caused the devastating crash. Such is the vitiated and vicious political climate in the country, that people are willing to believe the worst rumours. YSR was the star fund collector of the Congress party. In a way, he was also the ‘anointed one’ – a recent development that did not suit several well- entrenched members of the inner coterie. In much the same way that Madhavrao’s rapid rise in the party hierarchy upset the top Chanakyas in the cabinet at the time.Ironically, the erstwhile Maharaja also died in a crash.
This is India, boss. We can’t help it if we search wildly for clues that satisfy us when tragedy strikes. Some consult the stars – as has happened in YSR’s case (inauspicious muhurutam for the swearing- in ceremony, it seems!), others use their robust common sense ( why would an intelligent, educated , dynamic leader insist on flying into hostile territory given the hideous weather?). And then there are those who claim to be ‘in the know’. These are the dangerous ones who parade hearsay as the gospel truth and propagate malicious bazaar gossip that we so love! Whether or not poor YSR met his ghastly end on account of several collective errors of judgement rather than a sinister conspiracy to bump him off, the speculations will carry on – sorry – but that’s how it is when any prominent person suffers an unnatural, untimely death. And frankly, politicians should learn to deal with the muck that follows rather than suppress the voices of those asking uncomfortable questions. YSR’s followers have the right to know how it happened, why it happened. Plus, citizens would appreciate an honest response to the question, ‘After YSR, who?’Again, it is such an Indian thing to do when a politician dies in office – authorities promptly install the son \ widow \ daughter \ girlfriend on his gaddi. This is desi sentimentality at its ickiest. It is hoped better sense will prevail this time. YSR was a unique character, described admiringly as ‘stubborn’ by his fans. It was this trait that got the Congress its stunning tally of 33 seats in the last elections. Clearly, his 1,400 kms ‘padayatra’ in 2003 paid rich dividends. And had impressed 10,Janpath sufficiently to promote YSR - from just another regional satrap to a valued national leader, capable of mobilizing not just megabucks for the party, but mega supporters, too. Such an elevated and pampered position comes with its own risk factors. YSR was flying high – really high. But not high enough this time. The ill-fated, 11- year-old helicopter taking the chief minister to the launch of his Rachcha Banda ( village camp), crashed into a low hill and was instantly smashed into smithereens. With that ended the fascinating saga of YSR – the aam aadmi politician whose life was abruptly cut down on a stormy morning, leaving the perplexed nation wondering whether such a horrific accident could have been avoided. It’s a shame that it takes a tragedy to raise tricky questions. But going by the sms-es doing the rounds, here’s one that needs to be addressed in the spirit of fair and free enquiry - “ Billed as ‘India’s biggest ever search’ 5,000 jawans, an ISRO remote sensing aircraft, a Sukhoi, 14 search and rescue choppers, the forest department police, paramilitary forces, Chenchu tribal guides…. all mobilized within 3 short hours for a missing C.M. Was the Central Government sleeping during the 60 hours of Mumbai terror attacks on 26\11 ?”
Saach Ka Saamna, anyone??
Clearly this column has touched several chords going by the response. I was away in Alibag over the weekend - a very wet and very quiet weekend. Strangely, I had Michael Jackson on my mind . Perhaps his funeral ( finally!) re-triggered the memories, but I just had to watch something that brought him alive once more. My husband produced MJ's concert in Bucharest, recorded live, and I devoured it for two straight hours, unable to tear myself away even for a popcorn break. Just watching him dance and sing his way into thousands of hearts that night, made me vividly recall his concert in Mumbai ( thank you, Raj Thackeray!!), when he'd cast a similar spell on all those of us Mumbaikars who were blessed enough to hear him that wonderful night. Magical Michael!You were and remain the best